Saturday, December 1, 2018

I gave up on this book about halfway through - I thought the author was patronizing and self-serving. Although he claims to want a "dialogue" with his Palestinian neighbors, what he really wants is to preach at them as to why he (Jewish people) deserve to live in the entire land of Israel (while maybe making some minuscule "accommodation" to the Palestinians who have been live there for several millennia. He tries to justify the Jewish connection to the land, while ignoring the Palestinian's equally strong connection and all of his "history" is told from the Jewish perspective (not surprising as it is the "winners" who write history!) The more I read, the angrier I got - I've lived in Palestine as a human rights observer and he barely mentions the indignities that I witnessed on a daily basis. Had he written this book as a "point/counterpoint" with a Palestinian perspective added to his, I might have been able to read it - but as it stands, no thank you!!

Friday, May 5, 2017

"Rewards" for Prisoners?



Families of Palestinian Prisoners
An acquaintance recently asked me (as someone she knows is involved in the Israel/Palestine “situation”) for an explanation of a Wall Street Journal (WSJ) editorial (https://www.wsj.com/articles/pay-for-slay-in-palestine-1490653597 which encouraged the passage of the Taylor Force Act, which will, according to the WSJ, “cut more than $200 million in annual economic aid to the Palestinian Authority (PA) unless it stops paying terrorists.
It was a tough question to answer.  I had never heard of the Taylor Force Act, and still know nothing about it other than the WSJ citation.  I also was unaware of any “rewards” being paid to Palestinian “terrorists,” although common sense told me that this statement was undoubtedly a distortion of the type frequently found in the US press – even the “non-fake” US press!

Then the Palestinian Prisoner Strike started, and the issue came into sharper focus.  Below is my response to my acquaintance, who is actually a very nice person who just happens to be uninformed on anything related to Palestine/Israel;
“This is probably a longer response to the question you asked about "payment" to families of Palestinian "terrorists," than you were seeking - but this article about the prisoner strike (http://mondoweiss.net/2017/05/palestinian-prisoners-describe/?mc_cid=5853e276e2&mc_eid=2c50299218) may give you some insights - as, I hope, will my thoughts on what I believe is the basis of the editorial you shared with me.
Israeli soldiers detain young children without charges
The Israeli Government (which is even more right-wing than the US!) has a long history of “detaining” Palestinians – that is, “arresting” them without charging them of a crime and then leaving them to languish in prison for months or even years.  They also “detain” children – some as young as 7! – without charging them.  Their “excuse” for these actions, which of course are contrary to International Law, is that all Palestinians are “terrorists.”

Of course, some Palestinians do rebel against the illegal Occupation (which has lasted for 50 years now!) and attack Israelis.  Likewise the IDF (Israeli Defense Forces – i.e. Army) attacks Palestinian civilians for no good reason.  It’s a long and complicated story – and, of course, I am deeply immersed in it from having spent three months observing it first hand and writing reports to the United Nations – so I tend to jump on my soapbox when questions are raised about stories reported in the so-called “mainstream” press.

First of all, you have to understand that the US is NOT neutral when it comes to the Israel/Palestine “situation.”  Virtually every member of Congress is beholden to the “Israel Lobby” to some extent (and I’m happy to share the numbers of how much $$ each Congressman or woman has received!).  I could also cite numerous instances of US vetoes to UN resolutions that would chastise Israel for its human rights violation.  Or mention that Israel currently is the LARGEST recipient of foreign aid that the US gives to ANY country (currently $3.2 BILLION a year – and scheduled to rise!) – and it’s a first-world country the size of New Jersey!

All Palestinians are imprisoned by the Wall
But I digress.  You asked about “rewards” to the families of Palestinian “terrorists,” I believe the payments cited in the WSJ editorial are simply a form of “welfare” for the families of men who have been incarcerated (often without being charge or tried as mentioned above and in the attached article).  It is no more a “reward” for their actions than it would be to call the welfare payments given to families of US prisoners a “reward” for whatever they did that landed them in prison.  I don’t believe that the families of prisoners – no matter what country they are imprisoned in – should be “punished” for the acts of a family member.  Do you?

Sadly, the term “terrorist” is too often used to describe Palestinians – and not used often enough to describe the Israelis who, indeed, imprison ALL Palestinians by keeping them enclosed by a Wall!!  But that is a subject for another day. 

I would strongly encourage you to educate yourself about this issue.  I am happy to point you to books or films that will give you more insights.  You may want to click on this link https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y58njT2oXfE to see a short animated film (6 minutes!) that gives a good overview!  In the meantime, please remember that this is a subject that even the “mainstream” press has a difficult time getting right!"

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Portland Blows It - Again!


The City of Portland (Oregon) has once again blown an opportunity to make history!  As I wrote at the end of last year (“History – Or Politics” – December 23, 2016), following a long and contentious debate on what corporations should be placed on the city’s “Do Not Buy” list, the Portland City Council suspended city purchases of ANY corporate bonds for a four-month period.  Their stated purpose was to give the city (including the newly-elected Mayor and Commissioner, who would take office in January) a chance to “study” the bigger issue of city investments.

Predictably, the “study” was promptly passed off to the City Treasurer, whose proposal (as presented at this week’s City Council meeting) was to turn over ALL decisions on corporate investing to a Wall Street firm with its eye on the “bottom line” with NO regard for “social principles.”  In other words, the city-appointed Socially Responsible Investment Committee (SRIC) would be disbanded; the city would no longer entertain suggestions on what companies were “the worst of the worse;” and the Councillors would not place such companies on a list themselves (as they had previously done with WalMart and others). 

I was one of 40+ people who testified at City Hall
Those of us who care about human rights were outraged – and showed up en masse at Wednesday’s meeting to say so.  As you may be aware, Portland is widely recognized as one of the most progressive cities in the United States and there is no shortage of people with opinions who live here!  More than 40 “peaceful protestors,” including myself, and a wonderful group called “Raging Grannies,” who testified in song, took to the microphone to express our concern about the pitfalls of the city’s “plan,” and to ask that the SRIC be re-instated and that their previous “do not buy” recommendations (which included Wells Fargo and Caterpillar) be adopted.

The "Raging Grannies" brought the house down!
After almost three hours of testimony, the Council voted to make the ban on purchasing corporate securities permanent.  Their stated reason for so doing was that the amount of time expended in examining each of the companies that were brought before it, could be better spent on other aspects of city business (cited were housing concerns and potholes).   

However, as it was stated that the city had to adopt a “financial plan” every year – and as the treasurer predicted that removing its corporate investments would come at a substantial financial cost – it is unlikely that they have permanently eliminated this issue – and all the “messy” conversations around it!